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January 2004

Report from the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee on the draft bill published

Since the last update, the Queen's Speech was published on 26 November 2003. Disappointingly, this did not mention the draft Mental Incapacity Bill, although a draft Mental Health Bill was included.

The Joint Scrutiny Committee of MPs and Peers published its report on the draft Mental Incapacity Bill, on 28 November 2003.

The report welcomes the draft Bill overall, seeing it as something that is necessary and overdue. Importantly, the Committee has said very firmly that nothing in the draft Bill permits euthanasia. It recommends that a Clause making this clear be added to the Bill.

The Committee raise a number of other issues, and have recommended some amendments. Key amongst these are:

  • Parameters are needed for the general authority (and a different term may be helpful)
  • More safeguards are needed for the Lasting Powers of Attorney, especially to prevent financial abuse
  • Advance decisions should be in writing, be independently witnesses; for medical treatment, they should be recorded on patients notes. Explanations about what advance decisions involve, and regular reviews of these documents, should be encouraged
  • Guidance is needed on standards of care and the problems posed by artificial nutrition and hydration
  • The Codes of Practice should be published in draft before Parliament deals with the Bill itself
  • Medical research - this should be allowed if it is strictly controlled
  • The role of advocacy needs more official recognition
  • The assessments of the resource implications of the Bill are inadequate so far
  • The Bill needs to cover how someone acting on behalf of another person is able to access necessary information about that person.
MDA's submissions (oral and written) are mentioned throughout the report, including our separate paper on advocacy.

The full report from the committee can be found at:

An accessible version (PDF only) can be found at:

On December 2, the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Older People, Disability; Mental Health; And Learning Disability met. Lord Filkin, Minister at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, spoke at the meeting. He praised MDA's paper, Why the Bill is not about euthanasia, as being particularly helpful, and also highlighted the success of MDA as a coalition working to achieve change. He also suggested that the Government's response to the Committee's report would be made in February 2004; and that the Bill might be introduced to Parliament in May 2004.

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The information on this page was provided by members of the Making Decisions Alliance. It was last updated on22 June 2004.

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